Grantham, England: Hello, Harlaxton

On Thursday, January 17th, I boarded my plane in Hamburg at 7:00 am to head back to London, England. At my gate, I met a wonderful woman named Gretel: a third-generation German who lives in Guatemala. We spoke a bit in Spanish and when I say “a bit” I mean a few sentences. Gretel told me about Guatemala and about Costa Rica — I will be studying there September 7th – December 14th of this year. We also discussed her journey to Germany and her stay in the country as well. I loved listening to her talk about Guatemala and how she teaches the children in her Kindergarten class. Hopefully, I will be able to visit Guatemala and see the volcanoes Gretel spoke about!

Once arriving back to England, I passed through Border Control and switched terminals to check in with the Harlaxton welcome committee. I stayed at the airport with other Harlaxton students until we boarded a charter bus to take us to the manor. My friend, Miriam, and I talked the whole 2.5 hour bus ride to the manor, while everyone slept. Pretty soon, the announcement that we were approaching the manor was given and this is what I saw from my window seat.

Oh hello there, Harlaxton!

Our bus made its way up the drive and we students entered the manor. The whole experience felt surreal (and still does!) I sat in on a brief “welcome session” and then had the opportunity to head to my room to get settled.

Prior to arriving to the manor, I had no idea who my roommate(s) were or where I would be living. At Harlaxton, students either live in the manor or the carriage house, which is a building detached from the manor and a short walk away.

I found out I would be living in the carriage house and only had one roommate (score!) Some students here have 3-4 roommates. Though my room is smaller than any dorm room I have lived in, I am happy to be only living with one other person!

After finding my room and unpacking, I set about exploring the exterior and interior of the manor. Its very overwhelming trying to find your way around the building, however, that is also the most exciting part too about finding great study nooks and seeing the architecture.

For the rest of Thursday, I attended orientation sessions and just relaxed. Since I had arrived earlier, I did not have a jetlag issue like my peers (score!)

On Friday, there were more orientation sessions. In the evening, every student attended the opening dinner. This involved formal dress and observing a bagpipe performance. After speeches and music, we headed into the Long Gallery for dinner and found out what our house would be for the semester.

Much like Harry Potter, there are four houses at Harlaxton: Mercia, Pegasus, Gregory, and Newton. Throughout the semester, we have house competitions to compete for points which can be lost or gained. The prize for the winning house is the key to the manor’s front doors and the losing houses end up with a wooden spoon.

My house is Newton, which is the parallel house to Slytherin (insert broken heart for a Griffyndor.) “Known for their war cry, Newton is not a house to be tampered with. With exceptional war strategy and a keen interest in science, Newtonians can muddle through almost any situation. They can be misunderstood, but are highly intelligent.”

The dinner commenced and I drank one glass of the most disgusting wine ever. Remember the 2 Euro bottles of wine Neele and I bought in Germany? That wine tasted a WHOLE lot better than what the school offered. Nonetheless, the food was decent and I had the opportunity to get to know more students.

On Saturday, I turned 21…a bit anticlimactic 21st considering I could drink legally as soon as my plane landed the previous week. I attended more orientation sessions and had the opportunity to go into Grantham to explore and buy necessities. Overall, I felt the love from around the world through text messages from family and friends both near and far. A nice, calm birthday. I am excited to see what adventures my 21st year will bring!

Yesterday, another day filled with orientation sessions and preparations for the first day of classes. The day passed by quickly with me planning my first solo trip. Edinburgh, Scotland, I am coming for you!

Leave a positive impression,

Sydney xo

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